Last week in the comments, some of you made the point that Burn Notice is a great show to bridge from the week to the weekend, and I think that’s a good way of looking at it. Here in the dead of winter, with the economy in the toilet and long days of hard work giving way to a few days of relative leisure, Burn Notice is like a sweet ocean breeze. It’s like the kind of super-cool TV I would’ve watched when I was 12—once I’d finished my homework, of course.
“Truth And Reconciliation” wasn’t as much giddy fun as last week’s “Bad Breaks,” but man, any show where a groggy guy in a bathrobe gets dropped from a hotel balcony through the scored roof of a padded moving van… well, that’s the kind of show I want to wrap up my Thursdays with.
There was a sly little theme running through both the client-of-the-week plot and the master-plot in “Truth And Reconciliation.” This episode was all about the effectiveness of hiding in plain sight. Michael’s client Claude Laurent asks him to use whatever federal connections he has to extradite exiled government/corporate thug Jean-Pierre Duman back to Haiti, where he can stand trial for a host of crimes—not least of which is the murder of Laurent’s activist daughter. Duman’s been living in Miami under an alias, but he hasn’t exactly been laying low. As Michael notes, most petty dictators are spoiled rich kids who don’t like to be told what to do, so Duman spends his days partying openly, practically daring the authorities to recognize him and ship him home.
So how does Michael trap him? Through the blaring light of exposure. He poses as a guy working for Duman family associates Flintridge Industries, and claims he can clean up the kid’s spotty record for good. Meanwhile he takes whatever Duman gives him and hands it off to Sam, who hands it off to the Feds. Hooray for information. He also uses a car’s headlights to help Laurent duck Duman’s goons in the dark of night—using brightness, not darkness, as cover. As for how he gets Duman off his balcony and into the van—then on to Haiti—that’s a simple matter of using Fiona, a syringe of allergy medicine, and the mark’s sentimental attachment to the French language.
In addition to the van drop, the “Truth And Reconciliation” highlights included Michael’s escape from Duman’s house—aided by a well-timed sniper shot from Sam, plus a slick “wait don’t shoot me” sucker-punch—and an opening sequence in which Michael tricked a bribery target into revealing he was an imposter, before pushed the faker off a parking deck. (A lot of falling in this episode, along with a lot of light.) Aside from those action sequences though, the Burn Notice neatness setting was on low tonight.
There also seemed to me to be something a little off about the direction. Spike Lee’s former cinematographer Ernest Dickerson made his Burn Notice directorial debut with “Truth And Reconciliation,” and though Dickerson has helmed quite a few movies (included the very-good Juice back in 1992) and quite a lot of TV (including multiple episodes of The Wire), he didn’t really have the Burn Notice rhythm down. Some of the performances were too broad in one take and more muted in different takes from other angle, such that the edits didn’t precisely match. (Or maybe I’m just nit-picking.)
But the episode came together well in the coda, as Michael continued his ongoing who’s-trying-to-kill-me mission at a storage facility and discovered that he was about to be ambushed by Victor, his unhinged former Carla-mandated partner. And how did Michael throw off Victor’s ambush? By firing off a flare, and revealing him hiding in the shadows. Amazing what a little bright light can do.
-Good covert ops warning: You always overpay for bribery, and there’s no money-back guarantee if you get bad info.
-Which did you like better: Sam toting a fish around, or him being forced to do partner-stretching with Madeline?
-I didn’t care that much about the subplot of Madeline trying to figure out who stole her car stereo. I briefly assumed that she had done it herself in order to get Michael to solve the case, but when I realized she hadn’t, I pretty much checked out of those scenes.
-After my complaining a couple of weeks ago that Michael and his crew should be better-known in the criminal underworld than they are, I was happy to see Fiona using her rep as a ball-breaker to extract some info. I also liked her banter with Michael:
“I almost blew off your hand with a block of C4”
“And I made a friend”
-Michael’s chair is still duct-taped.
-Only two more episodes to go in the season. I think these next two are going to be pretty master-plotty.